Sunak at No 10: Scotland’s Bombshell

Sturgeon and PM Rishi Sunak did not agree on the Gender Bill as Sunak said the law would undermine UK-wide legislation, a blow to residents in other parts of the UK do need to undergo a medical examination to change their gender.

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Scotland's First Minister and the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon gives a speech at the SNP annual conference 2019 in Aberdeen, Scotland, Britain. [ Photo Credit: Xinhua/Han Yan]

Nicola Sturgeon,52,surprise resignation as Scotland’s First Minister on 15 February 2023, was expected after the fortunes of Scottish Independence was dealt a death knell in November 2022 by the UK Supreme Court judgment blocking her bid to hold a second referendum. But, the question is why did she not soldier on until the next election?

She was a charismatic personality who after 8 long years in office as the first woman Scottish National Party Leader and the second leader of her party after Alex Salmon, had acknowledged the job was “rightly hard”.

She described her time in office as a “privilege beyond measure”. She insisted her decision was “not a reaction to short-term pressures, but came from “a deeper and longer-term assessment,” perhaps, a strategic assessment. She also said in her hastily convened televised press conference, that “the time was right for her to step down”.

What has shocked the British public?

It was the same day that former British Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn decided to stand down as a Labour MP at the next General Election. There has been rumour doing the rounds that Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation was possibly a move to curry favour with the Labour Party’s lead in the polls, to get some sort of arrangement with Sir Keir Starmer“to
make an accommodation for Scotland”. We are not to know what was in her mind, but there was indeed something more than meets the eye?

Who will be Scotland’s next Leader?

It is not the public but the British and Scottish Press which has made many assumptions on who would follow her in the days, weeks and months ahead.

The Scottish Herald stated; “Just two weeks ago Sturgeon said there was still plenty in the tank!”

The Independent stated: “What does Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation mean for Scottish independence?”

The Telegraph stated:” By quitting, Nicola Sturgeon is leaving her trans (gender) mess for someone else to clear up”.

Public opinion felt her steady decline of late, most notably over the next UK General Election, which she pledged to turn it into a “de-facto” referendum on Scottish independence. Whilst the independence card played well for Sturgeon, the tide of politics has turned. Recent polls in Scotland gave a signal that the tide has turned in Scotland supporting a second referendum, following the first in 2014, especially after the energy crisis and the cost of living sky rocketing around the UK and most of all her failing initiatives on health care, after her brilliant handling of the COVID-19 pandemic vaccinations.

The debate over the Gender Recognition Bill has been a thorn in the side of those in Scotland not agreeing with Nicola Sturgeon’s incarceration of double rapist Isla Bryson.

What did Nicola Sturgeon contribute to Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon’s dynamic campaigning led the SNP to a historic landslide victory in the Scottish constituencies as its share of seats in Westminster swelled from a mere 6 to 56, with nearly all of its gains at the expense of the Labour Party, for which Scotland had been its stronghold. Who knows, whether now the tide has turned back for Labour with Sturgeon’s exit? Nicola Sturgeon’s charismatic personality led the SNP to its third straight victory in the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May 2016, but failed to obtain an outright majority at the last election, but chose to form a minority government instead.

Her legacy for the younger generation of Brits will be remembered, as she made University
Education is free for those wanting to enter and study at Scottish Universities.

Sturgeon and PM Rishi Sunak did not agree on the Gender Bill as Sunak said the law would undermine UK-wide legislation, a blow to residents in other parts of the UK do need to undergo a medical examination to change their gender. Sunak used that argument to prevent the bill which narrowly passed in Scotland’s Parliament from becoming law. Sturgeon will be forever remembered for stating that Sunak’s decision undermined Scotland’s democracy,

The shelf life of a politician around the world is limited. This is unlike in Sri Lanka, where Prime Ministers end up as Presidents, and cling on to power?

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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